Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome or TTTS is a condition during the pregnancy of twins in which blood flow from one twin is restricted from the other. This condition is seen in identical twin fetuses caused by abnormalities in connecting blood vessels in the placenta of the twin fetuses. Essentially what happens is that one of the twins receives extra blood flow while the other twin doesn’t receive enough during the pregnancy and growth of the two fetuses.
How Common is TTTS?
This condition used to be seen as very uncommon and we suspect that is because of the advances in the ability to detect the condition rather than an increase in its occurrence. Now it is believed to affect roughly 1 in 1000 pregnancies. There are several symptoms that the mother will experience to help detect TTTS. Several of these include contractions beginning prematurely, shortness of breath, abdominal tightness, unnatural weight gain, and greatly increased abdominal pressure.
The above symptoms will typically be the first sign of Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, but the presence of these symptoms either in part or in whole does not guarantee that the syndrome will develop or has already developed. If you have experienced some of these symptoms your medical professional will need to then begin the process to try and determine the likelihood of the condition developing with ultrasounds. The biggest indicator will be the presence of different sized fetuses. This shows that one twin is receiving more blood flow than the other and is developing at a much faster rate. Since this is seen exclusively in identical twins that is the first point that you can check for this condition is at 12-14 weeks where your OBGYN will be able to determine if the twins are identical or not.
Unfortunately, most medical professionals are not very familiar with the condition and too many instances of Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome go untreated and result in the death of at least one of the twins. There are some treatments available but these are most effective when the condition is caught as early as possible in the pregnancy. An early diagnosis may be the difference between life and death. The treatments aren’t well known but they do exist. If you are experiencing these symptoms it is important to get out in front of the problem and assure yourself the best possible chance of successful treatment.